June 16, 2004

Someone Will Be Fired

In general I'd rather write about the good news in Iraq than the bad since the media likes to pretend it's all bad. I'm sorry to tell you I have no good news for today.

Iraqis are furious. The CPA's approval rating is 11 percent. It's going to get worse before it gets better, so I suggest you brace for it.

Here is Christopher Hitchens in Slate:

The graphic videos and photographs that have so far been shown only to Congress are, I have been persuaded by someone who has seen them, not likely to remain secret for very long. And, if you wonder why formerly gung-ho rightist congressmen like James Inhofe ("I'm outraged more by the outrage") have gone so quiet, it is because they have seen the stuff and you have not. There will probably be a slight difficulty about showing these scenes in prime time, but they will emerge, never fear. We may have to start using blunt words like murder and rape to describe what we see.
Here are my gut-level predictions for which I admittedly have no evidence. Donald Rumsfeld will "resign" in order "to spend more time with his family" when this footage comes out.

Or:

Bush will be fired in November.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at June 16, 2004 12:39 AM
Comments

It would have been nice to have had warning that that link was to a pdf before it screwed up my system.

I'm guessing it's a link to the CPA poll I linked to here, with a non-pdf link to the full poll results. Oh, okay, that's here.

Posted by: Gary Farber at June 16, 2004 01:15 AM

Heres hoping both of yr senior White House Staff predictions come true!

N

Posted by: Neil W at June 16, 2004 01:43 AM

And/or!!!

Posted by: jack bog at June 16, 2004 02:02 AM

What a friggin' rollercoaster this election is turning out to be!

Hit&Run's Tim Cavanaugh yesterday posts that Bush is a LOCK for reelection. Daniel Drezner recounts the concern that many democrats have about Kerry's ability to effectively campaign and win support. Andrew Sullivan says (today at least) that Iraq is a disaster based on a recent poll of Iraqis. MJT echos that and quotes Hitchens about the Abu Ghraib photoshop of horrors to come.

I'm feeling a bit sick to my stomach, can I get off this ride now?

Posted by: steve at June 16, 2004 04:07 AM

Murder and rape? In a military prison filled with enemy combatants who tried to murder our troops while dressed as civilians, and who hid behind women and children during firefights? Imagine my shock. Wake me when we've done anything even 1/10 of the magnitude of the war crimes perpetrated by the Japanese at Nanking or Camp O'Donnell. The difference is one of scale, and of policy. But then, very few people on the street could even tell you what Nanking and Camp O'Donnell represent, so this is unsurprising.

If photos like this -- and I don't care what the photos depict -- causes even a ripple in the polls, we are officially an unserious nation distracted by unserious agendas. There is a bigger picture here -- Saudi Arabia and Iran to pick just two -- but since the media prefers to be obsessed with porn and petty crimes, then by God, that's what we are obsessed with too.

Posted by: Jeff Brokaw at June 16, 2004 05:46 AM

Its a fuckin' Newsweak poll. Which means it's a lie by defintion. In fact, all polls are lies these days. Get a grip.

Posted by: Eric Blair at June 16, 2004 05:51 AM

Mike,

I don't want to echo Eric Blair too much, but the poll is something that you would normally discount - unless there were some other supporting evidence for it.

And murder and rape charges need better than this third hand hearsay. If our soldiers did this systematically and proudly recorded this, then we liberal-hawks will have to radically readjust our rosey world view and say, "Oh, the wacky left was right about how blunt an instrument armed force is. It is practically unusable"

But, I for one, am going to need some actual evidence before I eat that crow.

Posted by: DeanT at June 16, 2004 06:18 AM

>In a military prison filled with enemy combatants who tried to murder our troops while dressed as civilians, and who hid behind women and children during firefights?

Actually, no. In a military prison filled with people dragged in randomly off the street, 70 to 90 percent of whom have nothing to do with any wrongdoing; they just happen to live in the street-sweeping area, or happened to be there on the wrong afternoon.

W/r/t your predictions, Michael - I'd put a lot better odds on the latter than the former. Bush's total refusal to admit wrongdoing, or allow any of his appointees to venture out from under the umbrella of Presidential infallibility (which seems to work a lot like the old "Cone of Silence" on Get Smart) is a big part of what's going to doom him in the eyes of the public. Note that the only war-related people to bail the administration have been Clarke and Tenet, both Clinton appointees. Once Bush hires someone, they stay hired. That's exactly the problem.

Posted by: pdf at June 16, 2004 06:21 AM

Of course we are a unserious (though I would use the word petty) nation. We are a nation of ferrets, we're bull-headed, but easily distracted by shiney objects... and torture in an American camp is a very shiney object.

The problem, I think, is that most people have no clue about politics, world events and domestic issues. They parrot responses to topics, channeling their favorite Pundit of the moment. I recall four years ago, as the florida ballot mess hit the news...

I was waiting on the mechanic to put new tires on my car, an older gentleman sat down near me in the waiting area and we struck up a conversation about the election mess. The fellow considered himself a proud and active AMERICAN! He showed me a tat on his forearm and told me that he had served in Germany during WWII. We had a god 10 minute discussion and eventually it dawned on me, the realization that caused me to become libretarian (with a small l), this fellow had no idea how the president of the United States was elected. He risked his life, voted every election and had no idea that we were a republic instead of a democracy. In fact, the first time I mentioned that, I thought he was going to go Semper-Fi on my arse.

I try to talk to random people that I don't know about politics, just to see if I'm wrong. Sadly, it appears that at least 50% of people in this country, even the ones who consider themselves active political citizens, have no clue what is going on. They read and spout the World According to X Broadcasting Network, or Y Publishing House. They cannot understand a financial system that is billions in the red, they aren't able to differentiate between the relatively easy way in which Afganistan took to rebuilding, and expect the same in Iraq. They can't figure out if we should build useable nukes, missile defense or a Dept of peace (though most people like the violent options more ;-) ).

However, prison abuse, torture, graphic photos and video... now here is something people can understand (so they think). It's bright, its shiney, its easy to be against, and its easy to look political by discussing it.

Yes, I am a libretarian, because I really think that the American People are no longer politicaly educated enough to vote and Nov. 2 has turned into the scary pop quiz where you just fill in the bubbles and hope you get at least a C.

Ratatosk, Squirrel of Disco

(But, it is hard to do the YMCA since squirrel arms don't reach above my head)

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 16, 2004 06:28 AM

Murder and rape? In a military prison filled with enemy combatants who tried to murder our troops while dressed as civilians, and who hid behind women and children during firefights?

And the justifications start. Aside from the fact that many of these people may be innocent, let me point out a couple of things. Without accountability, and due process, you end up being as bad as Hussein. Those guys that were fed to chippers? The killers were probably justifying the murders in a way similar to yours.

If photos like this -- and I don't care what the photos depict -- causes even a ripple in the polls, we are officially an unserious nation distracted by unserious agendas.

Really? What if they depict children being tortured or raped in order to ellicit information from a parent? Would you care then?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 16, 2004 06:28 AM

Sheeple are those who base their decisions entirely on 'poll of the day'. Sheeples do not understand polls are intentionally fixed to fit the agenda.

Lazy sheeple people suck.

Get off your asses sheeple people and for once, take the time to research. Listen to your own self not the Collective self.

Lazy sheeple people suck.

Posted by: syn at June 16, 2004 07:06 AM

Lazy sheeple people are also ones who believe in the notion that the draft is going to be reinstated. What the sheeples do not understand is that the brilliant military does not need sheeple people fucking up perfection.

Lazy sheeple people suck.

Instead of Looney Left or Right Wingers, why not use the term Sheeple when referring to conspiracy whore mongers.

Posted by: syn at June 16, 2004 07:14 AM

Syn,

Good point. I have no problem with Republicans, even Republicans who want to legislate some things I don't agree with. I don't agree with them, but I respect their right to hold that view.... I don't respect the Sheeple who follow those Republicans chewing on their arguments and spitting them back out as their own.

Thoughtful people, no matter their political views (be they pro-war, anti-war, anti-bush, anti-Kerry), are a key part of the political system. Unfortunately, a lot of Americans seem to fall into the Sheeple category and they tend to be the most loud, the most unreasonable and the most inflamatory.

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 16, 2004 07:19 AM

"Lazy sheeple people suck."

Here is a free clue, syn. If you are dead-set on this (rather bizarre) strategy of insulting people on the basis of their lack of intellegence, in an effort to persuade them, you should start by writing something that demonstrates the superiority of your intellect, rather than the opposite.

Posted by: Tano at June 16, 2004 07:22 AM

What's the big fuss? Bush's lawyers determined that this was all legal.

Posted by: Oberon at June 16, 2004 07:23 AM

It's funny, it seemed as if things were getting a little better in Iraq this month, with the UN resolution passing, and Sistani blessing the new government. It really seems like things could go either way. If the new government can't convince Iraqis that it is in charge, not the US, forget it - we are fucked. But I'm less pessimistic than I was a few weeks ago. (And therefore - in my poor conflicted Democratic soul - less optimistic about a Kerry victory.)

Posted by: Markus Rose at June 16, 2004 07:27 AM

Tano,

I doubt Syn was trying to persuade anyone. I seriously doubt that even the most political savvy person would be unable to truly make a Sheeple think. A good speaker/writer can make them change their mind... hell, a poor speaker/writer can make them change their minds (re: Newsweek).

J.R. "Bob" Dobbs made a sad but true statement:

"You know how dumb the average guy is?
Well, mathematically, by definition,
half of them are even dumber than that."

Tosk

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 16, 2004 07:28 AM

One more thing -- if the situation in Iraq really does not improve, and especially if some sort of nominally pro-USA Arab autocrat eventually ends up taking over, then shouldn't pro-democracy advocates start talking about the need for a truly achievable goal: an independent Kurdistan?

Posted by: Markus Rose at June 16, 2004 07:34 AM

Sorry, I don't think Abu Ghraib matters too much anymore. Unless we were running an extermination camp, I don't see this story doing more than a dead-cat bounce.

As Victor Hanson says, Rumsfeld is the most able SecDef this country has ever had. To throw him over the side without a direct link to his leadership would be silly--and exactly what Bush's opponents want.

Moreover, Bush is insulated from this fallout. He didn't order or condone anything that went on at Abu Ghraib. And, as market-watchers would say, the scandal has already been built into the price of Bush shares.

As for the Iraqi people, if you read the local blogs, they are not particularly exercised about any of this stuff, at least not any more. There are serious problems on the ground, here and now, that demand attention. Score-settling with Americans for torture of prisoners--many of whom were not exactly model citizens--is not high on the list of the average Iraqi right now. As it relates to the polls, also bear in mind that 70% of the Iraqi population has never met an American G.I., so their opinions are formed primarily by Al Jazeera and second-hand stories.

Hitchens and other "intellectuals" were rightly outraged over the affair. But this never-ending flagellation is just stupid. We are an optimistic, forward-looking people. Most Americans want to put this thing behind us and move on. When Saddam Hussein's trial starts and all the awful atrocities begin to pile up, the world will only be asking one question: Why didn't we invade Iraq sooner?

Posted by: Fresh Air at June 16, 2004 07:37 AM

Tano failed to acknowledge my non-partisan statement. Thank you Tano for pointing out my superior intellect.

Lazy Sheeple People Suck.

Perhaps Sheeples follow the 'poll of the day' because they lack comprehension skills.

Posted by: syn at June 16, 2004 07:46 AM

The CPA will cease to exist in two weeks, so it's approval rating is irrelevant.

The South Koreans are still "furious" at Americans about certain incidents during the Korean War. The verdict of history is that those incidents are not signifigant.

Get a grip, Michael. You are allowing yourself to be jerked around by the media's lack of perspective. The whole thing has already run its course. Charges of rape and murder are months old now.

Posted by: Ash at June 16, 2004 07:51 AM

No justifications tendered or needed. What happened at AG, if it is proven that laws were broken, is wrong. I still haven't seen proof of widespread torture, rape and murder. The hoods, the sleep deprivation and the other harassment is just that, harassment. It is not torture. This was not done to the general population. It was a very special group of prisoners. Something that seems to have been misplaced in all the hysterics is that abuse does NOT equal torture.

If the laws were broken then prosecute right up to command level. I would not be surprised to see worse surface and when/if it does action should be taken.

A BG that states she isn't responsible for what happens in her command is not a leader and should certainly not be an Officer. While you can delegate authority, you cannot delegate responsibility. BG K is responsible. Every leader between her and Pvt England is also responsible. The entire command shows an abhorent lack of leadership.

Expecting the SecDef to resign or be fired for AG is useless. Expecting the CinC to be held responsible is ludicrous.

And no, I'm not a Republican.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at June 16, 2004 07:53 AM

Fresh Air,

While your opinions are interesting, I think they are as biased as the Newsweek article. At least a somewhat large number of the people I interact with daily are still talking about the prison issues... in fact, I am close friends with some extremely Republican people here at the office. All of them voted for Bush, all of them supported the Administrations decisions... and many of them have stated publicly that they will vote against Bush. Perhaps they will change their mind, perhaps they were being dishonest, I don't know.

Over the past 6 months, the overall feel of politics here seems to have become one of "We should have done it, but we did it wrong". I think that if the media get hold of more AG media (especially, if it does show murder or rape), then the majority (the true majority aka Sheeple) will make a big deal out of it and if Rummy doesn't fall on his sword then it may indeed take votes from Bush (maybe enough to help Kerry win, maybe not).

I wish people would look at the world around them and whenever they think that it looks just like they think it should... they should look again, because they're probably missing a big chunk of reality.

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 16, 2004 08:03 AM

"You know how dumb the average guy is?
Well, mathematically, by definition,
half of them are even dumber than that"

Ahem,,,"by definition, half of them" would refer to the median guy, not necessarily the average guy.

Posted by: Tano at June 16, 2004 08:06 AM

Tano,

Yeah I know... RA Wilson corrected Bob on that years ago... but I was just quoting, not creating ;-)... and the basic point still stands (its just not as eloquent)

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 16, 2004 08:08 AM

Tosk--

Naturally I am biased. But I also read a lot of history, and what happened at AG will not stand the test of time as some kind of seismic national disgrace. The scandal will have no lasting impact on our efforts in Iraq, and (other than as an indictment of using poorly trained National Guardsmen and reservists as prison guards) none on the U.S. military either. That Bush's political opponents wish so it will not make it so.

I don't know any Republicans who are voting against Bush. In fact, I don't know any who have even considered it on the basis of Abu Ghraib.

We have had enough "chunks of reality" regarding this matter. As a news story it is in the ninth inning.

The vast majority of Americans do not want Rumsfeld to "fall on his sword." For him to do so would be to deprive the country of a great SecDef. Even partisan Democrats can see that.

Posted by: Fresh Air at June 16, 2004 08:16 AM

RickM,
Just a few points of disagreement. The evidence that I have seen is that the prisoners in AG were not some special breed of dangerous terrorists. As has been noted by others, they may well have been overwhelmingly innocent people caught up in a sweep. There may well be interesting moral discussions around the issue of using torture in the classic "ticking bomb" scenario - when getting the intel, asap, may directly save many lives. Even then, the general sense of most people is that if the torture goes ahead, we may decide to prosecute the perpetrator to reinforce the principle, but then take the circumstances into consideration when deciding how or if to punish. In any case, this does not seem to have been the situation in AG.

Also, although I generally agree with your demand that BG K be held responsible for her command, there are circumstances where blame cannot be laid on her. If she recieved direction from her superiors that some other unit (MI) was to have operational command within the prison when it came to interrogations, then the blame lies with the superior (prob. Sanchez) who ordered the crossed lines of responsibility.

And investigating the nature of the command climate, starting with the CiC is certainly appropriate. If it is found that a disregard for the Geneva conventions, and the Torture laws emanated directly from orders originating in the WH, then that is where the repsonsibility must lie.

Posted by: Tano at June 16, 2004 08:19 AM

"For him to do so would be to deprive the country of a great SecDef. Even partisan Democrats can see that"

Excuse me?
Please FA, feel completely free to speak for yourself. But dont try to speak for others.

I think Rumsfeld has been a horrible SecDef. He is singularly responsible for the decision to invade Iraq with a force that was from one half to one third of the size necessary to accomplish the mission (thats the larger mission - not jsut getting to Baghdad). He seems to have done this in pursuit of his vision of a lean, mobile, transformed armed force. Which sounds nice in principle - and no doubt there needs to be movernized, nimble yet powerful elements in our armed force. But there also needs a lot more.

He has completely misread the nature of modern warfare. It is not simply the drive from the border to the capital. You need to be prepared and equipped to deal with the situation once you take the capital. In this he has failed, in a very big way.

Posted by: Tano at June 16, 2004 08:26 AM

Fresh Air,

I agree that it will slip into history as just another footnote of bad things that happen in Wars... during the 2030 War against the new Facist government in the UK, I'm sure we'll hear it mentioned on blogs, just as some of the horrors of Vietnam got rehashed here (Tonkin?).

However, the question will be how quickly the scandal quiets down and when the media shows the new stuff (if they wait until Sept./Oct. and show serious stuff like outright murder or rape, esp very graphic) then the PR fallout could be gargantuan.

As for your view of Rummy... I'm not a partisan democrat and I don't agree with you. I don't believe that any single individual is key to the success of an administration. If this war depends on Rumsfeld, then what happens if he gets hit by a bus?

I'm not saying my view is right, I'm just saying that the anecdotal evidence that I've personally experienced doesn't jive half with what you've stated... perhaps because we live in different geographical areas, or have different social circles, or work environments. Either way, I'm not sure that things are nearly as set (or as bad) as we both see it.

Tosk :)

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 16, 2004 08:33 AM

Tano:

I think part of disagreement may come from the definition of "torture." The stacked naked men, the public humiliation, even the "stand on a box with wires attached" IMO does not constitute torture. Until the switch is flipped, and according to reports it wasn't, those wires were just part of a serious headgame being ran on a possible serious bad guy. Part of the problem lies in the ambiguity of the GC. Part lies in our different perceptions.

I'm not arguing that there was absolutely no torture, I'm saying that the vast majority of the reported "abuses" does not reach the level of torture. I use "scare quotes" because I'm not decided on whether they are abuse or effective interragation technique. The photo of the prisoner immediately after being attacked by the dog is evidence of torture unless the dog release was accidental (and I personally don't believe that). The prisoner handcuffed to the rail is not being tortured. All of the pictures themselves are evidence of poor taste, bad manners and a huge amount of stupid!

We are probably hours away from an American hostage being tortured and then murdered, on film, for all to see. And the fault will lie directly at the feet of those responsible for maintaining good order and discipline at AG. That means BG K and her merry band of deaf, dumb and blind Officers and NCOs.

If a higher authority ordered that MI was to be placed in charge then the Commander of that unit should be held responsible. Gen Sanchez does not pick up responsibility for the actions of his subordinate Commanders unless there is proof that he new laws were being broken or should have known laws were being broken. I have seen nothing that points to that.

I do not have a problem with investigations being conducted. I believe that starting at the top and working your way down is back-assward. Add in the assumption of guilt from some (not all) loud and obnoxious members of an opposing party and the circus begins with what should be a serious issue.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at June 16, 2004 08:49 AM

>>>"Actually, no. In a military prison filled with people dragged in randomly off the street, 70 to 90 percent of whom have nothing to do with any wrongdoing;"

PDF,

actually, no. Though what you say may have been true in other prisons, Abu Graib was reserved for the worst of the worst, thus their treatment.

Posted by: David at June 16, 2004 08:52 AM

I suspect we will see everything on the internet eventually. If you can post vidoes of people getting thier heads sawed off and eyeballs cut open, I'm pretty sure you can post this.

As to what actually happens, it seems it's always possible to deny. For myself, I hope whoever sits at the top of the food-chain on this one gets what he deserves.

The hard-core Bush supporters are already in defensive mode. I'm particularly annoyed by the line of reasoning that "if the enemy is bad enough, we can do whatever we want". Not to over-simplify, but we're supposed to be the "good-guys", that's also supposed to be a function of who we are, not who the enemy is.

...and, not to be trite, but I'm waiting for one of my republican friends to find a way to blame this on the Clinton adminsistration.

Posted by: joekm at June 16, 2004 08:59 AM

Tano--

It is not just my opinion. The American people have spoken; I'm sure you have seen the poll in which 70% said Rumsfeld should stay. No?

No offense, but Victor Hanson says "Rumsfeld is quite simply the best Secretary of Defense we have had and we will sorely miss him when he leaves, which I hope will be in 5 years." Unless you have a hidden expertise in military history, I'll take Hanson's opinion over yours.

Tosk--

I guess we are in agreement. If the AG footage is as spectacular as Hitchens says, and it's released in October...Who knows? Look at what happened in Madrid.

You are quite right in that Rumsfeld is replaceable. We'll find that out the moment he leaves office. But just because Al Gore wants him to leave is no reason to do so. (It's probably a good reason for him to stay: As Andrew Sullivan once said, "Al Gore is a reliable indicator of where America isn't.")

Ultimately, the election will turn on a whole pile of facts and opinions about those facts. Many of these, but not all, will relate to the WoT. The broader the conflagration is drawn, the less the impact from isolated events such as what happened at Abu Ghraib.

Posted by: Fresh Air at June 16, 2004 09:01 AM

david: Though what you say may have been true in other prisons, Abu Graib was reserved for the worst of the worst, thus their treatment.

Remember this phrase. I bet Hussein uses it in his trial.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 16, 2004 09:10 AM

Well joekm, that was trite and completely unnecessary, thanks.

There are no justifications for rape or murder in prison. It makes me cringe every time I see that trotted out. It also makes me want to hurl when I see people like Double PU up there start right in with their equivocation. "We're just as bad as Saddam". Stop it. Seriously. You know that we're not, you're just shouting to hear your own voice. Idiotic, and doubly stinky.

RickM - I agree with much of what you have posted, except the bit about where the responsibility lies for the potential murder of the American hostage. Just as there is no justification for any murder in our prison, the only people responsible for the murder of an American hostage is the terrorist that actually does the killing. Period. The reason that we are not "as bad as Saddam" is that we do take responsibility for our actions, and in due time most of those responsible will bear the consequences of their actions.

If Rummy authorized murder and rape or failed to act in a timely manner after discovering occurrences of murder and rape, he should go. I doubt that he did. If he did not, then he should stay. Seems simple to me.

Posted by: Obe at June 16, 2004 09:11 AM

"As Andrew Sullivan once said, "Al Gore is a reliable indicator of where America isn't."

Amazing isnt it, the rep that one earns by getting the most votes in a presidential election...

Posted by: Tano at June 16, 2004 09:11 AM

It also makes me want to hurl when I see people like Double PU up there start right in with their equivocation. "We're just as bad as Saddam".

Where did I say that? I've actually said just the opposite.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 16, 2004 09:18 AM

double,

I was making a statement of fact, not opinion. Thus, Abu Graib did not contain "random" Iraqis picked up off the street, as implied by PDF, but rather those who were known to be part of the insurgency. It's a statement of fact only, and not a justification (though I'm not shedding too many tears about it).

Posted by: David at June 16, 2004 09:18 AM

Some ugly shit went down at AG at the hands of some ill-disciplined, white-trash soldiers. Those people are being punished.

For fuck sake, enough already! We're at war, remember? Something tells me it's going to have to take something really big befor people get that. Smallpox released in dozens of US hospitals, a nuke in NY harbor. Apparently two massive skyscrapers collapsing on prime-time TV wasn't enough to get the message out.

Yes, some innocent Iraqis were stripped and their genitals laughed at, boo fucking hoo, can we move on now please?

Posted by: Amos at June 16, 2004 09:19 AM

One other thing: Is it true that most of the MPs and Guardsmen that were involved with the abuse are also wardens and jailors back in their civilian lives? If so, I wonder what the abuse rate is like in our prisons here in the US. It would be interesting to know so it could be used as a frame of reference to help determine how much was "ordered" from up the chain and how much was simply based on the failings of human nature (as documented by that Stanford study, etc).

Posted by: Obe at June 16, 2004 09:19 AM

Obe,

If the loud majority of Sheeple decide that the AG scandal is a very bad thing, then I would hope Rummy is intelligent enough to take the blame... if he does, then Bush is cleared of that issue for election, if not... it would likely impact him at some level (and in a close election that could be bad for Bush).

Nothing is ever simple.

Posted by: Ratatosk at June 16, 2004 09:21 AM

>>>"Remember this phrase. I bet Hussein uses it in his trial."

double,

he's free to use that phrase if he so chooses. It won't change the fact that naked pyramids will never be equivalent to dipping people in acid baths.

Posted by: David at June 16, 2004 09:22 AM

David, yes, I know. Sorry it came out that way.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 16, 2004 09:23 AM

Re: innocents in Abu Ghraib. I urge everyone to read this post from Iraqi blogger Riverbend about Abu Ghraib in March, well before the scandal broke.

david It won't change the fact that naked pyramids will never be equivalent to dipping people in acid baths.

Those are the photos we've seen. As the article quoted by MJT states, and as Sy Hersh has said publicly, the really bad stuff is yet to become public.

And then there's all those times when the cameras haven't been used.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 16, 2004 09:27 AM

double,

I'm bracing for impact.

Posted by: David at June 16, 2004 09:28 AM

Rick M has this just about right as far as I can tell. The AG matter is under investigation. Whatever crimes were committed and whomever the perpetrators were will be handled under the UCMJ. It is very unlikely that the Secretary of Defense (or even anyone within 3 or 4 levels) would be legitmately implicated. I'd be interested in hearing about any precedent that suggests otherwise. The system for dealing with this is in place and seems to be working its way through the maze. For some that apparently isn't good enough. Well, GTFU, that's how it is.

I can't determine if the AG mess is really that big an issue to some people or they just see it as a drum which, if they beat it long and hard enough, can be used to keep people from focusing on the larger issues. Most likely some of both.

OT, but vaguely related to the recent discussions here, is what I consider an excellent piece by "Ginny" at chicagoboyz.net (http://www.chicagoboyz.net/archives/002046.html#more)

Posted by: Knucklehead at June 16, 2004 09:29 AM

Double PU - "Without accountability, and due process, you end up being as bad as Hussein. Those guys that were fed to chippers? The killers were probably justifying the murders in a way similar to yours."

Are you saying that your caveat about accountability and due process allows you avoid the equivocation charge? The implication is enough, just as it is with your second comment: "Remember this phrase. I bet Hussein uses it in his trial."

Come on, what's the point in even trying to equivocate the actions when the scale is so ridiculously different? If you have a point, make it, but the whole "we're just as bad as Hussein" thing is not a valid argument.

Are you saying that you don't believe that people will be held accountable through due process?

Posted by: Obe at June 16, 2004 09:31 AM

Tano--

Amazing isnt it, the rep that one earns by getting the most votes in a presidential election...

This is off-topic (and ancient history), but I will respond:

Keep in mind the Constitution sets forth the rules as to how presidential elections are decided. Bush's failure to contest California is a major reason why he did not win the popular vote. If he wanted to be in Al Gore's shoes, he probably could have been.

Regardless of what one might have thought of Al Gore in 2000, it is apparent that he is now close to losing what's left of his mind. If you think he's so great, then by all means pencil him in this November.

Posted by: Fresh Air at June 16, 2004 09:33 AM

Tosk, you're right it's never simple. I guess I wasn't talking about how it will actually affect either politically, I was just thinking about how I will personally assess blame as things unfold. You are correct though, just because I think he should stay doesn't mean that at some point it might not be better for all politically that he goes. If it does come to that, it will be a shame. Whatever you think about the tactics (Tano somehow knows the entire endeavour is a failure already), the man has served honourably and in good faith, as far as I know.

Posted by: Obe at June 16, 2004 09:35 AM

For all those who keep waiting for, or wishing for, bigger shoes to drop or higher heads to roll re: AG, you might consider giving some thought to the general conditions of prison systems throughout the US. It is, after all, the system which provided the "professionals" who staffed or National Guard MP units.

Of course, no doubt the current Attorney General issued some decree that instantly turned Eagle Scout prison guards into torturing murderers and rapists. Off with his head!

Posted by: Knucklehead at June 16, 2004 09:39 AM

And the fault will lie directly at the feet of those responsible for maintaining good order and discipline at AG.

Bad choice of words on my part! The fault for the probable torture and death of any hostages lies at the feet of the terrorists doing the deed. AG will trotted out by them as justification. Unfortunately that justification will be trotted out by some Americans too.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at June 16, 2004 09:42 AM

According to Hitchens and his source who has seen this material, we aren't talking about naked human pyramids we're talking about murder and rape.

Could be bullshit, but I trust Hitchens more than I trust just about anybody else.

Posted by: Michael J. Totten at June 16, 2004 09:42 AM

Obe - Take a look at those posts again. I said that without accountability, you end up being as bad as Hussein. Which is a far cry from as bad as Hussein.

From my own blog when the scandal broke:
Some are making the conclusion that because of these abuses, the Americans are as bad as the Baathists. I disagree. The US military has announced that these kinds of abuses are not to be tolerated, arrests have been made, and court-martials are to follow. That would have been unlikely under Hussein, I think. And I imagine that the enormous PR damage this incident has caused will hopefully cause policy changes to avoid a repeat of this kind of crap.
And the justifications for the torture that I'm seeing here are exactly the kinds of things that are said by the bad guys. I'm sorry if that offends some people, but those rationales are exactly what lead to those kind of abuses. Which is why we make them illegal, so there people can't say "I think this guy is a bad guy, so it's okay to hit him/set a dog on him/kill him during questioning." We can't seem to always rely on the morality and strength of character of those in charge, so accountability keeps us in the light. Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 16, 2004 09:43 AM

Knucklehead - That was my question. So that is true then? Know of any place where prison abuse stats are kept on US prisons and if they are reliable at all?

Posted by: Obe at June 16, 2004 09:43 AM

This is completely anecdotal, but somewhow related...

Three or four summers ago I was sitting around the patio table with some Swedish expat friends. One of their brothers was in for a visit and was with us. Naturally discussion eventually turned to the wonders of socialism vs. the horrors of heartless capitalism and things of that sort.

The brother was a career prison guard there in Sweden. He was on a one year "medical leave" due to stress. Discussion revealed that such "stress leaves" were a releatively common thing in Sweden and they were basically a governmental method for reducing unemployment; identify "stressful" occupations, cycle the people with those jobs through yearlong leaves of absence, fill the vacancies with people otherwise unemployed.

While exploring what sort of jobs were considered suitably stressful, the general concensus seemed to be that "prison guard" (or corrections officer) fit the bill because, to paraphrase my guest, if one stops and gives much thought to prisons and prisoners and what goes on among everyone involved is profoundly disgusting.

Posted by: Knucklehead at June 16, 2004 09:50 AM

Cringe all you wish Obe, but the fact remains that there are no justifications for rape and murder in prison.

The fact that it happens, even that it happens routinely does not change the fact that there are no justifications for rape and murder in prison.

The fact that Saddam was far worse still does not change the fact that there are no justifications for rape and murder in prison.

Does this mean I necessarily think it's Rummy's or even Bush's fault? No, lets see how the data pans out first. However, regardless of how it happened or why it happened; there are no justifications for rape and murder in prison

Posted by: joekm at June 16, 2004 09:50 AM

I'm not particularly worried. If the media try another story from Abu Ghraib, you'll see Bush move up in the polls due to backlash against the media. Let's face it, the rumors about murder and rape have been out there for a long time, and as we all know from the stock market, buy on the rumor and sell on the news.

Posted by: Pat Curley at June 16, 2004 09:54 AM

Obe,

I don't know of such stats or their reliability. I'm a bloodlusting, heartless "conservative" and, therefore, treatment of prisoners is somewhat down my list of pressing concerns. I wouldn't mind seeing any and all mistreatment of anyone in the world cease, but prisons are sorta down near the bottom of that honeydo list of world problems needing solving.

Someone at National Review did a couple pieces within the past six months or so about widespread prison rape (maybe other abuses also). But there just aren't enough hours in the day to read (and endlessly comment upon) everything.

Posted by: Knucklehead at June 16, 2004 09:57 AM

I've read again and again that the War on Terror would be better fought through "better intelligence and special ops". No one treats these abuse stories as a wake-up call against that kind of thinking.

Welcome to the Dark Side. I've never heard of amorally pure intelligence operation. More spook work means more of these behaviors. Anybody who really advocates that we turn the War on Terror into a pure Spook war needs to accept that, or re-think strategies.

On the other hand, if forced regime change becomes necessary again (and I think it will) we need to re-think the structure of forces that handle occupation and re-building. I will agree with Fresh Air that Rumsfeld has made the military much better at defeating our enemies. (Note: that's what a military traditionally is supposed to do.) But the military as currently structured may not be the right tool to re-build a nation.

So now we need to re-think how we move forward. Sacking Rumsfeld may make political sense, but I'm pretty sure it would negatively impact the average IQ of the team doing the thinking. In other words, Michael, I hope your instinct is presenting a false choice.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 16, 2004 09:57 AM

joekm,

I'm not aware of anyone who believes there is any justification for murder and rape in prisons (or anywhere else for that matter). What there is, however, is this little thing called the UCMJ which covers this sort of thing by US military people. Whatever crimes have been committed, including murder and rape if such rumors turn out to be true, will be punished according to the applicable laws. Leaving it at that does not represent any attemp to justify, or excuse, or equate or anything of the sort. War sucks. In all wars some people do really nasty things - that's one of the many reasons war sucks.

Why on earth does anyone expect the conduct of war to be perfect or 100% of our soldiers to be perfect? Some of our soldiers are really crappy human beings. Most are remarkably fine young men and women.

Posted by: Knucklehead at June 16, 2004 10:03 AM

from Knucklehead:

'I'm a bloodlusting, heartless "conservative"'

Huh?

One of my best friends ever was also the most hard-headed conservatives I've ever known. While we did often disagree, I wouldn't have charaterized him as either "bloodlusting" or "heartless". He currently works at the Pentagon and he's a basically good-guy.

C'mon guys...it's not productive to make personal attacks or put words in each other's mouths.

Posted by: joekm at June 16, 2004 10:16 AM

Murder and rape thrive during war. Every damn war. No exceptions. You americans think you are perfect, 100% innocent? You are not. Nobody else thinks you are, why do you think that?

Concentrate on the important thing--winning the war against the terrorists. Do not let all the people down who want to see freedom.

Posted by: JC at June 16, 2004 10:22 AM

from Knucklehead:

"Whatever crimes have been committed, including murder and rape if such rumors turn out to be true, will be punished according to the applicable laws. Leaving it at that does not represent any attemp to justify, or excuse, or equate or anything of the sort. War sucks. In all wars some people do really nasty things - that's one of the many reasons war sucks."

Sounds to me like you and I are pretty much in agreement. My biggest worry is that this will fall more on the shoulders of people lower in command and not on those who actually authorized the action and bear chief responsibility.

....but I could be wrong...we'll just have to see.

Posted by: joekm at June 16, 2004 10:25 AM

Joekm,

That crack was an obviously failed attempt at levity on my part - poking fun at myself for not caring deeply about everyone and everything. I was not accusing anyone here of using such words. My bad - it was inconsistent with the normally civil tone here.

Posted by: Knucklehead at June 16, 2004 10:26 AM

"I've never heard of amorally pure intelligence operation. More spook work means more of these behaviors.
Anybody who really advocates that we turn the War on Terror into a pure Spook war needs to accept that, or re-think strategies."

Word.

Posted by: mnm at June 16, 2004 10:26 AM

Concentrate on the important thing--winning the war against the terrorists. Do not let all the people down who want to see freedom.

Um, wouldn't "freedom" include things like freedom from torture, rape, and murder by an occupying army?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 16, 2004 10:26 AM

"Um, wouldn't "freedom" include things like freedom from torture, rape, and murder by an occupying army?"

Dpu, Canada should also be free from serial killers. Did you know there are serial killers in canada? There are also rapists, thieves and con artists. Is Canada a land of no laws?

Posted by: mnm at June 16, 2004 10:38 AM

++UG:

"Um, wouldn't "freedom" include things like freedom from torture, rape, and murder by an occupying army?"

Quantity and quality count. In the "compare and contrast" questions that get asked in Iraq, today is better than two years ago. (Especially when you ask Shia'a and Kurds.)

More free is better than less free. And there's reason to believe the situation will continue to improve. Yeah, be outraged, but lighten up on the doom and gloom. Mend it, don't end it.

Posted by: Mark Poling at June 16, 2004 10:38 AM

Joekm,

How far up the chain of command prosecutions go (I should have mentioned that the UCMJ covers investigation, prosectution, and punishment) remains to be seen. But expecting one of the Big Dogs heads on a platter is neither realistic nor useful, IMO.

As with most criminal investigations those in the military would typically begin with the people who actually performed the criminal acts. Those people may or may not point the finger at someone higher up - the "just following orders" defense. That's not a particulary good defense under the UCMJ because all soldiers recieve training in recognizing and resisting illegal orders. Nonetheless giving illegal orders is a crime of its own. So the investigation should follow the trail where it leads. I could be proven wrong by a wide margin, but my best guess is that the trail essentially ends with the BG Rick M mentioned. Its possible it goes to her commander (would that be whomever has overall command of the MPs?), but I sincerely doubt it goes any higher. It just wouldn't make sense to go get, or even demand, the head of the SecDef or POTUS on a platter because some Spec 4's and 5's or Staff Sergeants behaved like thugs. The field commander responsible for the unit, however, is finished. She was negligent at the very least (or so it seems to me from what little I've paid attention).

Posted by: Knucklehead at June 16, 2004 10:38 AM

Another torture video we're not likely to see any time soon:

Abu Ghraib

Posted by: Mike at June 16, 2004 11:00 AM

mnm Dpu, Canada should also be free from serial killers. Did you know there are serial killers in canada? There are also rapists, thieves and con artists. Is Canada a land of no laws?

Not really sure what your point is there, m. Perhaps turn the sarcasm dial down a little, and it'll be a bit more clear to me.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 16, 2004 11:15 AM

Dpu, My point is that Iraq is free from torture, rape and murder except by criminals. Your comments seem to suggest that torture murder and rape are acceptable behaviors within the U.S. military. If you are not suggesting that, then you understand that the indivduals responsible for torture, murder and rape are going to be dealt with. Beyond investigating, charging and punishing those responsible, what additional action do you suggest?

Posted by: mnm at June 16, 2004 11:32 AM

Here's another viewpoint worth considering.
Deborah Orin, Washington Bureau Chief of the New York Post, has a must-read column in today’s edition, titled Reporting for the Enemy. You can read it on my Blog, where I have posted it along with a link to the original article.
For links to news, views, politics, and government, bookmark All Things Political.

Posted by: All Things Political at June 16, 2004 11:33 AM

What JC said.

His message should be repeated many times over, and then some.

This war is a non-partisn issue no matter which party one is affiliated or not affiliated with.

We the People need to learn how to fight wars instead of expecting our military to do all the work for us.

If I were not 42 years to old to join the military, I would join the military in a heartbeat just to get away from the war here at home. Instead, I will use my age to fight the enemy at home and I am optimistic about our victory in this war being waged against our Nation. I am an American.

Posted by: syn at June 16, 2004 11:34 AM

I've got some questions regarding the JAG Corps & how the Army deals with criminal issues (I know very little about either).

First, does anybody know if there are official Army investigations going on into charges of murder or rape at Abu Ghraib?

If, as Hitch has implied, Congressmen have been shown scenes of rape or murder perpetrated by U.S. Army soldiers, there's no way the Army couldn't be investigating those charges. There's got to be (a) active investigations for rape or murder and/or (b) suspects under investigation or suspects formally charged with rape & murder.

Second, if the Army is investigating these things, and has suspects, how transparent would the process be? Can the Jag Corps / military justice system conceal these investigations? If you go to them and say, "are you investigating charges of murder and rape at the Abu Ghraid Prison", can they stonewall you, or do they have to say "yes" or "no?"

It seems to me that unless the Army can conceal them, by now any active Army investigations into rape and murder would already be in the news whether or not images or video of the events is available. (Though the media ignored the Pentagon's press releases regarding the Abu Ghraib abuses until they got their hands on pictures, by now it seems every development would be reported, pictures or no.)

Now, I suppose it could be that the video/pics or rape/murder don't directly involve American soldiers. I have heard that there's a video of a hired Iraqui guard raping a boy, for instance. In such a case there might not be an Army investigation of a particular soldier for rape, but an investigation of who allowed it to happen, who videotaped it, etc. Such an investigation might not be described as being for "rape" but for something else, dereliction of duty or something.

Anybody got input on this?

Posted by: Twn at June 16, 2004 12:02 PM

Just to toss some things out for discussion...

A while back there was the case of the US officer (I believe he was a colonel, regular US Army, too lazy to google it up) who was convinced that a prisoner his troops had captured had information regarding an ambush that was going to happen. I have no idea how he became convinced of that, but apparently he was convinced. They could not get the prisoner to reveal the information they wanted so the officer took his sidearm, stuck in the prisoner's face, then pointed it slightly to the side and pulled the trigger. That action was sufficient to get the prisoner to spill his guts. The unit then used the information to go out and foil the ambush. The officer immediately turned himself in, was court marshalled and, last I heard, his career was essentially trashed and he lost grade and, therefore, some amount of pension.

Was that action justified? Should he have been punished more, or less, severely. As I recall his men nearly universally considered his actions heroic but also understood that he had behaved "illegally" and, therefore, was subject to the UCMJ. Is mistreatement (did that action "rise to the level of" torture?) of prisoners ever justified under any circumstances?

Are there varying degrees of mistreatment? For example, is all mistreatment a form of "torture" or does torture require some concrete action above and beyond "humiliation"?

I recently watched, I believe on Discovery Channel, a show where a bunch of volunteers agreed - what were they thinking? - to be given some "information" about a terrorist or terrorist act about to happen. A professional team of interrogators then had to try to get the information out of them and they were, of course, supposed to resist giving up the information. It was interesting to watch the techniques used. JMO, but I wouldn't care much to be subjected to any of the interrogation. Nonetheless, it was all apparently "within the law", at least the military version of such law. They pretty much had almost all the info within something like 14 or 18 hours and ended the exercise "early" since the volunteers were "breaking" and getting pretty ragged. I found it interesting, maybe I'm just a sicko.

Many of us keep dogs. Most of those who keep dogs keep them as pets but most would also suggest there was a security component to it - the old, if a burglar (or whomever) hears a dog he "move on". The AG business with the dogs being used to "scare the piss" out of the prisoners seems to be especially troubling to some people. If you have a dog and somehow, someway, somebody got into your home and the dog somehow, someway, cornered that person and literally scared the piss out of that person, would you feel responsible for an act of torture? Would you rethink your position regarding the "security" aspect of keeping a dog or that you had misused the dog?

Just askin'.

Posted by: Knucklehead at June 16, 2004 12:07 PM

Dpu, My point is that Iraq is free from torture, rape and murder except by criminals.

Then what was the point of bringing Canada into it? I don't get it.

But my point is that abuses happen in any power structure, you need to have a system that controls it. That system has been effectively dismantled by the current administration (IE abandonment of the Geneva Conventions, refusal to honour an International War Crimes Tribunal, etc), which as allowed (and at some point encouraged) a lot of abuses to occur.

I also think that these abuses are more prevelant in Iraq than you do, and that the result of that is a low opinion of occupation forces by everyday Iraqis, as we're seeing in polls.

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 16, 2004 12:16 PM

knucklehead If you have a dog and somehow, someway, somebody got into your home and the dog somehow, someway, cornered that person and literally scared the piss out of that person, would you feel responsible for an act of torture?

If this was done to captive US soldiers, how would you feel about it?

Another thing - don't we want the bad guys to surrender? Would you surrender if you knew you'd be treated like this?

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 16, 2004 12:19 PM

"Then what was the point of bringing Canada into it? I don't get it"

To suggest torture rape and murder are acceptable in Canada is ridiculous. I believe your assertions are also ridiculous, to say the least.

Posted by: mnm at June 16, 2004 12:27 PM

dpu,

>> abuses happen in any power structure, you need to have a system that controls it.

First off, see http://usmilitary.about.com/library/milinfo/mcm/blmcm.htm

That is the system used to define, prosecute, and sentence those accused of, and subsequently found guilty of, those actions defined as "criminal" for members of the US Military. Have a look at it. I daresay you will find there a whole range of activities which would not be considered "criminal" in the civilian community. Military conduct is MORE proscribed than civilian conduct, not less.

>> That system has been effectively dismantled by the current administration (IE abandonment of the Geneva Conventions, refusal to honour an International War Crimes Tribunal, etc), which as allowed (and at some point encouraged) a lot of abuses to occur.

Nice charges tossed about. Please provide some form of evidence. The Geneva Convention is a specific document pertaining to specific situations. What evidence do you have that this administration or any other has "abandoned" it other than, perhaps, you wish that to be so?

As for International War Crimes Tribunals... which such has the US refused to participate in? And why should we have participated in it? Just because one may prefer some "international" system for attempting to prevent abuses and punishing them when the nearly inevitable occurs does not mean that no system is in place or that some system has been "effectively dismantled" or that abuses are being "encouraged". Please provide some evidence if you're going to make accusations.

Posted by: Knucklehead at June 16, 2004 12:28 PM

DPU--

Knucklehead is right. The Geneva Conventions are a two-way street. If there are instances where we don't abide by them, it's because Al Qaeda and the other terrorists who are (a) not fighting in uniform and (b) do not represent any legitimate military unit do not abide by them. If someone fires at us from an ambulance we will fire back, etc.

Posted by: Fresh Air at June 16, 2004 12:51 PM

dpu,

>> If this was done to captive US soldiers, how would you feel about it?

I wouldn't like it. But some points about that... I'm not certain it would qualify as "torture", if that's the worst that happened to them I'd be thankful (and I suspect they would be also), and it wasn't the question I asked. Nobody (well, hardly anybody) wants to be frightened by a dog to the point of pissing themselves. But is it tourture to frighten the piss out of someone or is it a valid (or accepted or "legal") interrogation technique?

Additionally, is there some evidence that any of the AG stuff was done to Iraqi soldiers? BTW, here's the definition of who gets POW status (well, the "milita" part of it): "(2) Members of other militias and members of other volunteer corps, including those of organized resistance movements, belonging to a Party to the conflict and operating in or outside their own territory, even if this territory is occupied, provided that such militias or volunteer corps, including such organized resistance movements, fulfil the following conditions:[ (a) that of being commanded by a person responsible for his subordinates; (b) that of having a fixed distinctive sign recognizable at a distance; © that of carrying arms openly; (d) that of conducting their operations in accordance with the laws and customs of war."

Is there some evidence the prisoners in AG satisfied those criteria? Splitting hairs, somewhat, but POWs are not the same as criminal or terrorists. We generally agree to be bound by the GC, but there is no "controlling legal authority" that says we must be bound by it for prisoners to whom it does not apply.

"Another thing - don't we want the bad guys to surrender? Would you surrender if you knew you'd be treated like this?"

Oh please, don't be childish. The bad guys surrender when the choice is to surrender or die. Whether or not we might use dogs to scare the piss out of them would never enter into their thinking. You don't really propose that there are hordes of (or even two) brave Iraqi resistance fighters who would love to buy into the whole democracy thing and surrender their arms and themselves except, well, darn it all to heck, those rotten Americans will make the dogs bark at them till they pee their pants! Fight on, fellow Jihadis, we can accept anything but being frightened by dogs!

Posted by: Knucklehead at June 16, 2004 12:54 PM

++ug

The current US administration is honoring the Geneva Convention in regards to most of the prisoners, whether they have POW status or not. The ruling is still out on whether they do. IMO they do not rate or deserve that status. Certainly after 30 June they would have no status as POWs.

To accuse the administration of abandoning the GC because they did a study seems petty. Are they supposed to flip a coin? You must understand the rules before you can operate properly within them. I would expect the administration to operate as close to the edge as possible. Just a whisper on this side of legal is about right. This isn't a popularity contest and we shouldn't be treating it as such. If what we are doing pisses off our citizens they can correct it in November. If you're not a US citizen then, by all means, express your opinion but don't expect it to affect our laws. That includes the ICC and any refusal to honour an International War Crimes Tribunal. They violate our Constitution in numerous ways and I don't recall having voted them the power to violate our Constitution.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at June 16, 2004 01:08 PM
United Nations Convention Against Torture defines torture as:
Any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
I'd think that contests to see who can get the greatest number of prisoners to urinate themselves from fear would fit under this description. Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 16, 2004 01:17 PM

Lets keep separate issues separate.

The behavior of uniformed service members, with regard to their share of the blame, is accountable to the UCMJ, and, I suspect, the appropriate investigations are underway and accountability will be served.

The behavior of the civilian leadership with regard to their culpability is accountable to their boss, the president. It should be expected that he will hold those responsible accountable.

The behavior of the president with regard to his culpability and with regard to his diligence in holding his administration to the proper standards of behavior, is accountable to his employers - we the people.

Lets hope that the military justice system is doing its job with regard to the soldiers. Lets hope that the president is doing his job with regard to his administration. And we the employers should be dissecting, analyzing, debating etc. in preparation for doing our job in November.

Posted by: Tano at June 16, 2004 01:38 PM

Darn! Well, that puts the kabosh on my Halloween fun.

Posted by: Knucklehead at June 16, 2004 01:50 PM

++ug

Then, once again, it comes down to opinion. Our opinions will probably never meet.

Tano

Well said.

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at June 16, 2004 02:02 PM

Actually the news today is very good http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/international/international-iraq-sadr.html?hp. and the deterioration and retreat of the al-Sadr rebellion is I think a more crucial (and obviously opposite-tilting) development in determining whether Rumsfeld or Bush keep their jobs than are the impending awful images from the prison.

Posted by: jsstag at June 16, 2004 02:50 PM

Actually the news today is very good

Actually, the news yesterday was very good. From Juan Cole's blog:
Ross's request for a meeting may well be a sign that a more pragmatic set of officials from the State Department is beginning to take charge of such policies from the Neocon establishment that had dominated the Coalition Provisional Authority (and which had generally screwed up Iraq royally). On June 30, the real transition will be from Defense Department dominance of Iraq to State Department responsibility for Iraq. Since virtually nobody at the Pentagon knows anything serious about the Arab world, whereas State has fair numbers of Arabists and lots of experienced diplomats this transition is all to the good.
Today's, ungood. Not quite plus-ungood, but ungood:
The Financial Times reports that Iraqi Petroleum Minister Thamir Ghadban has confirmed that saboteurs twice bombed a pipeline that takes petroleum to storage tanks in Basra, near the Persian Gulf.
Sabotage of the Kirkuk-Turkey pipeline in the north, which can carry 800,000 barrels a day, had already taken nearly a million barrels a day of Iraqi petroleum off the market in May and June. With Monday's explosions in the south, Iraq is down to exporting only 500,000 barrels a day. Given the ramshackle and dilapidated state of its petroleum industry after over a decade of sanctions, Iraq probably can't pump much more than 2.5 million barrels a day at best.
...and...
the Iraq Revenue Watch of the Open Society Institute is reporting that the Coalition Provisional Authority (i.e. the Bush Administration in Iraq) is rushing to give away $2 billion in Iraqi oil revenues in reconstruction bids before the so-called turn-over of sovereignty on June 30. This move is obscene. When the US knows very well that an Iraqi government is going to be recognized in only a couple of weeks that will have rightful claim on how that money is used, it is just ethically wrong for the Americans to commit the money now.
Oh well, at least no new horrific images of naked people cringing in front of soldiers. Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 16, 2004 02:58 PM

"give awat $2 billion in Iraqi oil revenues in reconstruction bids before the so-called turn-over of sovereignty on June 30. This move is obscene."

Now that the Geneva convention issue and americas murderous soldiers issues have been cleared up, I guess you are ready to move to the next issue which is how the Americans are theives. What next?

I havent fact checked your latest topic, but I doubt many american tax payers will mind if 2 billion of Iraqs oil money goes to pay some of the contractors who are rebuilding Iraq. I think americans have also kicked in a few bucks, you know for the effort.

Posted by: mnm at June 16, 2004 03:34 PM

Iraqi revenue watch chairman, George Soros, I went no further into my fact checking.

Posted by: mnm at June 16, 2004 03:46 PM

Now that the Geneva convention issue and americas murderous soldiers issues have been cleared up, I guess you are ready to move to the next issue which is how the Americans are theives. What next?

( Snark = Discourse )

Posted by: double-plus-ungood at June 16, 2004 03:54 PM

Rick M,
I'm off point here but hey hard charger, I'm not the smartest guy in the room like the rest of y'all, I'm just a simple Gunny. I've invented a new parlor game. I sit and think about all the guys I served with over the last 25 years, and kind of insert them into the AG scenario and guess how they would've behaved. And frankly, I have no trouble at all imagining things turning out about the same way they did in real life.

I once read a story about a guy who was in the French resistance during the war who was asked about how his fellow villagers acted. Y'know, who was a resister, who was a collaborator, and who just tried to stay out of the way. He answered that he could tell what someone was going to do based on how they acted in High School. I think of my fellow Marines the same way. People get so wrapped around the axle..."My God, how can Americans do such a thing?"...Its like falling off a log. American servicemen did stuff in Europe in WW2 that makes AG look like Sunday school. Not trying to make excuses, just trying for some perspective here.

When I was a young Lance Corporal, I had all the answers. Years later when I was finally in the room with the decision makers I learned how hard it is. It is so hard to imagine how tough it is to get people to do what you want em' to, or not do what you don't want em' to....like herding cats. Just cuz they are military, doesn't mean anything.

As you might've guessed Devil Dog, as only a Gunny after 25 years I was not known for playing well with others. I have mused over what I would've done upon walking into that cell block and seeing my guys laughing and snapping photos of a pig pile of prisoners. It would not have been pretty sportsfans.

Folks want Rummy's head, or GWB or whoever, but the bottom line is that that stuff happened cuz the SNCO's did not do their job. Period. I would not have needed officers to tell me what was allowed or not, I would not have given a rat's ass what the officers wanted, or the CIA or who ever. Think Piaget's six stages of moral development.
Ooooh Rah

Posted by: Citizen Dave at June 16, 2004 03:54 PM

"Actually, the news yesterday was very good. From Juan Cole's blog:"

Anything that comes from Juan Cole's blog departs from the realm of "good news" and "bad news." With Juan's consistently dubious commentary it all reduces to rubbish (although it is fun to count how many times he can work the word "Neocon" into every entry).

Posted by: jsstag at June 16, 2004 04:04 PM

Citizen Dave,

I only served four years, so I don't have expertise, but what I do know tells me two things:

- you are as correct as it is possible to be
- it is soldiers like you, you lifer, who are the reason we win most of the wars we choose to fight and why I have continuing faith in the US military. We will sometimes screw it up but we almost always fix it. FUBAR is an expression, not a reality.

Thank you for your service.

Posted by: Knucklehead at June 16, 2004 04:15 PM

Bush or Rumsfeld fired? Wishful thinking, I suspect.

The courts-martial are working their way up the chain of command. And while the grunts' futile "Nuremberg Defense" will keep things moving up, Generals Karpinski's < Sgt. Schultz voice > "I Know Nuzzink" < /Sgt. Schultz voice > routine will terminate the process. She can't kick it up any higher, unless she wants to testify that everything she said in public for the last few months is a lie.

They wil get to General Karpinski soon enough - certainly before the election. When she gets thrown to the sharks, I think the people will be satisfied that justice was done.

Posted by: Ralph Phelan at June 16, 2004 04:36 PM

Oberon sez:

"What's the big fuss? Bush's lawyers determined that this was all legal."

Is this the latest DU talking point or what? It's really stupid and I keep on seeing variations of it.

Get real. Nobody in the Bush administration created a policy stating that when you torture someone, you should film it and make it into a screensaver for your computer. Abu Ghraib was a screw-up, pure and simple.

What the Bush memo is about is "waterboarding" the inmates at Guantanamo.

You may not like that either, but it's quite clearly a separate issue. Stop trying to confuse the two.

Posted by: ralph phelan at June 16, 2004 04:43 PM

I second Knucklehead's response to Citizen Dave. My concern is that we will lose this war because we can't seem to stop the obsession with quick fixes and navel gazing. The obsession with AG is about 3 things, IMO: (1) some people want to get rid of GWB and will exploit any perceived weakness to do so; (2) some people are so obsessed with preserving American virtue that they cannot put anything into perspective; and (3) some people love to ride the roller-coaster -- all of the highs have to be really high, and all of the lows really low -- in this universe, there's no room for patience and perspective.

Posted by: Ben at June 16, 2004 04:56 PM

tano sez:

"And investigating the nature of the command climate, starting with the CiC is certainly appropriate. If it is found that a disregard for the Geneva conventions,"

The Geneva Conventions are being followed to the letter. The Geneva COnventions say that when you catch a guy with no uniform and no serial number, he's not a lawful combatant and Geneva Convention protections don't apply.

According to the laws of war, any "insurgents" we catch can be summarily shot as spies. Every moment they continue to breathe is a gift from us that we may lawfully withdraw at any time.

We signed an internationl treaty against torture that does apply to everyone, includinng terrorists, but leave the Geneva Convention out of it.

Posted by: ralph phelan at June 16, 2004 05:02 PM

joekm sez:

"Cringe all you wish Obe, but the fact remains that there are no justifications for rape and murder in prison.

The fact that it happens, even that it happens routinely does not change the fact that there are no justifications for rape and murder in prison."

True enough. But if it turns out that what happened at Abu Ghraib is routine in American prisons, two conclusions swiftly follow.

(1) We as a country have a big problem.

(2) The problem is big enough and old enough that it's pretty clearly NOT Donald Rumsfeld's fault.

Posted by: ralph phelan at June 16, 2004 05:15 PM

Ben,

You may have noticed that "succinct" is not one of my attributes. I rarely use one word when four will do the same job. I honestly admire when someone like you can cut through the crap and get to the meat as succintly as you did (but I can never let it go at that ;>)

>> My concern is that we will lose this war because we can't seem to stop the obsession with quick fixes and navel gazing.

We have, indeed, lost all perspective regarding the value of time and patience. I normally avoid the network news and talking heads. This evening I didn't and what did I find? They are STILL talking about the Laci Peterson case. And they are STILL saying nothing or, rather, presenting "today's developments" as somehow meaningful. Its a murder. Murders suck. Double murders suck even more. But how is this one "news" anymore? Related to that, how "bad" is this "misery" so many seem to claim we live in today in the US if one freakin murder provides a half year of "news"?

>> The obsession with AG is about 3 things, IMO: (1) some people want to get rid of GWB and will exploit any perceived weakness to do so;

That is the relentless drum beating I mentioned above. And if "they" can't make this stick to either Rumsfeld or the president "they" will be back after the election blathering about "teflon" and the public who refuses to see the "reality". God how the media (actually the Eliteratti) sickens me. GTFU, get a grip, beg borrow or steal some perspective (that's not aimed at you, Ben)

>> (2) some people are so obsessed with preserving American virtue that they cannot put anything into perspective; and

The freakin' fantasists! Stop it. Forget your (not you, Ben, the gigantic "you" that is "us" in this country) sophomoric sophmore philosophy class. The world is not something you conjured up. There are no superman, morality is not relative. Pick a fucking side and get on it. If you pick the other side you're a freakin' moron (sorry, that was uncivil)

>> (3) some people love to ride the roller-coaster -- all of the highs have to be really high, and all of the lows really low -- in this universe, there's no room for patience and perspective.

The MSM cannot afford to tell us "like it is". Day in and day out is B-O-R-I-N-G. Twenty-four hour "news cycles" don't matter. What matters is how things turn out years - even generations - from now. We, the people, need to pull our heads out of our asses, realize one week is not enough, and gaze out toward the horizon and try to help build a better freakin' world. And there's no "better world" out there on the horizon if we keep tolerating the apologists for scumbag murdering tyrants. That ain't "culture", its murder and tyranny and we need to get rid of it.

Sorry, yet another rant.

Posted by: Knucklehead at June 16, 2004 05:29 PM

The U.S. has not signed the United Nations Convention Against Torture that ++ug cited above - in fact America is still opposed to it. The U.N. has a pretty sad track record itself often erring in ways that further enable torture.

Posted by: d-rod at June 16, 2004 05:32 PM

I don't think that "polcing comments" thing is going well, Michael. Just as a datapoint, of course: I quit reading after reading a couple of comments from "syn." I probably missed some fine messges below, but life is short, and I look for a ratio of value-to-junk that is very unbalanced towards the former. My loss, I'm sure.

Posted by: Gary Farber at June 16, 2004 05:37 PM

Knucklehead --

I stopped watching the news every day several years ago. One day (during the OJ trial) I realized that most of the stories simply weren"t telling me anything new or even useful. I watch TV news on occasion, but get most of my news either in printed form (so I can skip the repetetive parts) or on the radio (when I am in the car and cannot do anything else). My occupation keeps me quite busy, and I don't want to waste my precious free time hearing some so-called expert's speculation about a topic that has already been beaten to death. Also, most of what is reported early in any situation turns out to be wrong.

Posted by: Ben at June 16, 2004 05:57 PM

Citizen Dave:

Folks want Rummy's head, or GWB or whoever, but the bottom line is that that stuff happened cuz the SNCO's did not do their job.

I couldn't agree with you more... kinda :) The SNCOs were criminally lacking in AG but that was not where it began and that was not where it ended. The NCOs should have stomped on this silly crap from the first second. The fact that NCOs and SNCOs not only didn't stop it but actually contributed is just mind boggling. And that brings us to the Officers. Where the hell were they? How could they not see this happening. The Captain accused of taking pictures of his female troops as they showered provides alot of insight into the whole mindset of the command.

My father went through two wars and almost 25 years and retired as a SSgt. It was 25 years of proud and faithful service. "Gunny" was the best title I ever had the honor of wearing. There isn't a better job in the world than being "The Gunny". Other people might disagree but what the hell do they know?

Semper Fi

Posted by: RickM at June 17, 2004 04:11 AM
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